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born into brothels

Puja, Suchitra, Kochi, Avijit, Tapasi, Gour, Manik, & Shanti

I tend to be a bit of an aesthetic perfectionist when it comes to design.

In particular, I don’t care for large photos that squish the text awkwardly to one side or the other when I post a blog.

In this case, I could care less about my words.

I want this picture to be really large, if I could make it larger, even obnoxiously so, I would.

I want this photo to be large because I want you to get a good look at the faces of these kids.  I want you to see their personalities, smiles, gaping mouths, odd stares, and I want to ask yourself what you think you might look like if your mom was a prostitute and you were born in a brothel, a whore house.

Tonight I watched a documentary called “Born Into Brothels”.  

I happened to hear of this documentary a few years back while watching the Academy Awards.  When Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman came to the podium, if I remember correctly, Zana took a photo of the crowd with a cheap point-and-click camera – so she could take the photo back to the kids in Calcutta’s red light district.

She then explained that she had fallen in love with these kids when she was on a photography assignment in the brothels of India’s largest city.  She decided that she would devote her life to these people – little girls destined to grow up and “work the line” and little boys destined for … well … alcoholism, systematic abusiveness, drug addiction are all implied. She began to teach them photography, eventually taking their photographs and auctioning them at Sotheby’s to raise money to help get these kids out of the brothels and into boarding school.

The story captivated me.

But evidently I was not captivated enough to go to the website (www.kids-with-cameras.org) or find a copy of the documentary … kind of like how I hear about the devastation that pervades the world that I get glimpses of on the news occasionally, or glimpse as I drive through the bad part of town, or shake my head at when I ready the latest statistics.

There are two things that struck me as I watched this documentary tonight, and the first is very simple: “How dare I? How dare I do nothing?”

And the second is like it: “How dare we? How dare we do nothing?”

The “we” I am thinking about is the vast majority of the American church – not all, but most of us.

Watch the documentary, look at the website, flip through the photo album of photographs taken by the children in the ungainly photograph at the top of this post.  

And then, let’s do something about this.  Let’s do something about the kids that play on the floor of crack houses in the bad part of our cities.  Let’s do something for Calcutta. Let’s do something for Mexico City.

I am not going to belabor the point in this post, but I don’t plan on dropping the subject any time soon.  Look for more practical thoughts about things like adoption, world missions, loving the poor, and many such things in posts to come.

Let me leave you with a thought and a quote from the documentary:

Thought: is the solution for these kids photography and education – or is it faith in the gospel and the help of the church?

Quote: “I used to want to be a doctor … then I wanted to become an artist … there is nothing called ‘hope’ in my future” – Avijit (Brothel, Calcutta, India)

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  1. October 16, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Gut wrenching.

  2. November 13, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    I so agree with you… I watched this Documentary and have not been able to get this off of my mind. Hmmm What can I do? what should I do? Where should I start? Good food for thought. I will do my part. Starting in my community and the working towards places like India and Mexico… Thank you for you post. I feel even more committed now.

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